The band Tenth Avenue North posted on Instagram a few days ago and the words have been rattling around in my brain since then.
"Tim Keller once said, 'true friendship is built on the times we willingly inconvenience ourselves for another.' When the world goes crazy, it's good to have a safe place. Praying today, that the church would rise up to carry each other's burdens, to be inconvenienced and interrupted with joy in our hearts. Whatever our friends bring into the light, may Jesus teach us to say, 'Is that all you got?' May the gospel make us all a safe place."
This summer, I've been able to sift through my old notebooks and journals. Most of the time, I would like to time-travel back to 8th grade and smack myself on the back of the head like Gibbs in NCIS and then give myself a hug. Because junior high is hard. And because even though at 15 I considered myself a good Christian girl who loved Jesus, I had no idea that I was doing it all wrong. I had no idea that even on my best days, I would never be able to earn God's love. I had no idea that in my flesh, I would never be enough, but by the grace of God and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, I was made flawless. (Also, I had a crush on a different boy every other week which is a dumb way to treat your heart. But that is a story for another day.)
My journals reveal dozens of rabbit trails in my walk with God, but I can say with certainty that the times I was most connected to the Lord were also the times I was most connected in His church. Unfortunately, I often made the mistake of allowing the brokenness of others to turn me away from community. When people failed me, I walked away, convinced that it just wasn't worth it. Thankfully, by God's grace, my ideas about church have been restored and healed! (That's also a story for another day.) All I can say is, praise God. I cannot imagine what my life would look like now if I hadn't been connected into an amazing community.
With all that being said, I am on-board the community train! In fact, most of the time I feel like I'm attempting to be a back-seat driver as God takes us down the track. In those moments, He gently reminds me, like any good dad, that there is a reason I'm sitting in the back seat. However, I'm excited because I know how flat out terrible it is to not be connected. I know what it is like to walk into church week after week with a chip on your shoulder, to push everyone away, and to wallow in self-pity. But I also know how sweet it is to be part of the family of believers. I know what it feels like to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. I know what it feels like to be unable to preach to myself and have my family step in and preach to me. I know the way that warm fuzzies flood your heart when you realize that someone willingly inconvenienced themselves for you. Sacrifice is hard, folks. And knowing that someone loved you enough to sacrifice...that is remarkable.
If you're in a season where community seems less appealing than eating worms...I get it. And if that is where you are right now, please know that Jesus wants to do a mighty work in you. In fact, He's already at work! Philippians says that He promises to finish that work! So rest easy. Pray. Know that God has never and will never leave you hanging. (And like the song, and my friend Monica, says...if you don't know what to pray, just say JESUS.)